Society reveals 'deeply unfair disadvantage’ face masks are having on deaf children

The National Deaf Children’s Society has stepped in with a list of actions the Government should take to help deaf children while face masks are used in classrooms.

Deaf school children left dreading school following the return of face coverings to classrooms at the beginning of the year, the charity says.

It says the situation continues to put deaf children, who are struggling to keep up with hearing classmates, at a “deeply unfair disadvantage” and it’s affecting their education and their mental health.

A deaf child at schoolThe National Deaf Children's Society has today published a list of measures that it wants the Government to take, to counteract the negative impacts on deaf children’s education of the continued wearing of face coverings in class.

This is in light of the Government’s planned review of the use of face coverings in secondary school and college classrooms on 26 January.

The charity is asking parents of deaf children across England to email the Secretary of State, Nadhim Zahawi MP, to outline the impact face coverings in classrooms are having on their children. Face coverings make lip-reading impossible and obscure crucial facial expressions.  

Describing the ongoing use of face coverings in classrooms as putting deaf children at a ‘deeply unfair disadvantage’, the charity recommends the Government takes action to protect the education of deaf children, including by providing clear face coverings to schools and colleges with deaf pupils.

In addition, the charity urges that a dedicated fund is set up to pay for extra support like radio aids or speech to text reporters for deaf pupils and the Secretary of State should write to schools, colleges and parents about the impact of face coverings on deaf pupils and give examples of reasonable adjustments that should be made. These mitigations will ensure that the communication needs of deaf children continue to be met in schools, even if the wearing of face coverings continues into next month.

Mike Hobday, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “Face masks across the country are having a huge impact on England’s 45,000 deaf children. Public health must be a priority, but face masks in class mean that deaf children are being left out and left behind. This is not acceptable.

“Deaf children tell us they are struggling to communicate with their mask-wearing friends, unable to consistently understand their teachers and falling behind in their schoolwork.

“The Government needs to take the urgent actions we’ve set out today to stop deaf children being failed.”